WALDORF NEWS

and Views and Blogs and...


Part II













SELECTIONS
(CONT.)

Here are a few more representative 
selections from the News Archive
(they are given in 
reverse chronological order: 
newest first, oldest last):














October, 2011:










A photocopy of p. 51, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - 
ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS,
showing Steiner's description of three human races. 
Blacks (Schwarz) are characterized by the rear brain (Hinterhirn), 
and they live primarily through their drives or urges (Triebleben).
If they leave their proper place on Earth (i.e., Africa), 
they may become copper-red (Kupferrot) and die out.
"Yellows" (Gelb, i.e., Asians) are characterized by the middle brain (Mittelhirn), 
and they live mainly in their emotions (Gefühlsleben). 
If they leave Asia, they may become brown (Braun) and die out.
Whites (Weiss) are characterized by the forebrain (Vorderhirn), 
and they place emphasis on thinking (Denkleben).
They are pretty much free to go where they please.

Some of the other material on the page is also interesting. 
For instance, "The black man is an egotist (Der Schwarze is ein Egoist) 
who absorbs all light and warmth (der nimmt Licht und alle Wärme auf)." 
Steiner explains that the dark skin of "Schwarzes" drinks in sunlight, 
which is why blacks are overheated internally.

Anthroposophists rarely translate this material into English 
or discuss it outside their private gatherings.





"In recent years, occasional charges of racism have been leveled against Rudolf Steiner and against institutions arising from his work, such as the Waldorf schools. Those laying the charges have increasingly shown themselves more interested in defaming the work of Rudolf Steiner than in finding what lay behind the apparently offending passages." [10-6-2011  






Waldorf Watch Response:

Steiner's followers increasingly realize that his teachings about race create serious problems for them, and they increasingly work to mount defenses. In these efforts, they often employ fallacious forms of argumentation, such as impugning the motives of others rather than grappling with issues forthrightly. 

One line of defense adopted by Anthroposophists is that Steiner's "apparently offending passages" have been taken out of context. Sure, Anthroposophists say, Steiner said some things that may seem offensive, but he also made a number of statements denouncing racism. This is the correct context for understanding the iffy passages, they say. Overall, Steiner opposed racism.

In analyzing these matters, we should begin by determining whether any of Steiner's statements were more than just "apparently" racist. Here are two authoritative definitions of "racism":

◊ "racism, also called racialism — any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview — the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called ‘races,’ that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some races are innately superior to others.” — "racism." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 06 Oct. 2011.


◊ “racism a. The theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race.” — OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, Vol. 13 (Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 75.


It is rationally impossible to deny that, by such definitions, Steiner made racist statements. Here are two examples that clearly meet these definitions of racism:


◊ "[C]onsider how different the natural abilities, how different the talents of the individual races are. The one race stands at the level of what we call the highest civilization, while the other stands at what appears to be the most primitive, subordinate level of civilization.” — Rudolf Steiner, DIE WELTRÄTSEL UND DIE ANTHROPOSOPHIE (Rudolf Steiner Verlag 1985), pp. 132-3. This meets the general specifications of both definitions, finding great significance in racial differences. And, while a bit vague about whether some civilizations are really higher than others, Steiner here clearly meets one of the BRITANNICA's particular specifications: He teaches that races have, by their nature, differing "traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features" (in Steiner's words, the "individual races" have "different natural abilities...different talents").

 

◊ “[E]ach person has the opportunity to...undergo the transformation into higher races, toward ever higher perfection. Races would never become decadent, never decline, if there weren't souls that are unable to move up and unwilling to move up to a higher racial form." — Rudolf Steiner, DAS HEREINWIRKEN GEISTIGER WESENHEITEN IN DEN MENSCHEN (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1984), p. 174. This quotation, too, is clearly racist according to both definitions. And here Steiner meets another of the BRITANNICA's particular specifications, teaching that "some races are innately superior to others" (in Steiner's words, there are "higher races...higher racial forms").


[For many, many more examples of Steiner's racist remarks — as well as longer versions of the two quotations we have just examined — see "Steiner's Racism", "Forbidden" , "'Negro'", and "Races".] 


Well, but what about the claim that we are taking such statements out of context? The "context" Anthroposophists mean is the one created by Steiner's statements that oppose racism. Surely, Anthroposophists claim, Steiner's racially enlightened statements offset his apparently racist statements. 

Let's consider this argument. Do racially inoffensive statements offset racially offensive ones? We might note that no one who is truly free of racism will make any racist statements — none — so the large number of racially offensive remarks Steiner made is, in itself, telling. We might also note that racists often take racially "enlightened" stands when addressing certain audiences and/or when trying to conceal their real, racist attitudes. 

In reality, "good" statements about race do not sanitize racially offensive statements made by the same person. Consider the following questions:

Question #1. How many racist statements are too many? Ten? Five? Two?

Answer. One. A single racist statement is too many. No truly enlightened person will make a single racist statement. Yet Steiner made many statements that are distinctly racist.

Question #2. How many racially enlightened statements should you make in order to compensate for making some racist statements? If you have made, let's say, a dozen racist statements, how many racially enlightened statements must you make in compensation? Two dozen? Ten dozen? A million dozen?

Answer. None. No number of racially enlightened statements can compensate for making racist statements. The only way to compensate for making racist statements is to admit your error, apologize, promise never to make such statements again, and then never make such statements again. Rudolf Steiner failed this test.

Let's consider one other defense offered for Steiner. Anthroposophists argue that, unlike racists who say that "inferior" races are subhuman, Steiner accepted the fundamental humanity of all peoples. This argument contains some truth, as far as it goes. Steiner generally acknowledged that all people are fundamentally alike because all have human souls. But this doesn't change the fact that so many of Steiner's statements meet authoritative definitions of racism — people may be fundamentally alike, but Steiner said that humans exhibit significant racial differences, with some races standing at lower evolutionary levels than others. 


Moreover, Steiner taught that wicked people can become trapped in low, "decadent" races — and other wrongdoers, falling even lower, can descend through the bottom of the racial hierarchy. These worst of all humans will indeed become subhuman — they will become "nature spirits," beings that have no real spiritual essence. They do not have human souls or human spirits. Here is an extended version of a quotation we saw above, in a different translation: 


"Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind ... Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form ... By striving forward, [a good person] is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages ... [But a bad person] remains behind in evolution ... He must then content himself with an inferior incarnation which has been left to him in a decadent race ... Now let us take an extreme case [in which a truly wicked person] finally arrives at a point where he can no longer incorporate in a human body ... Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... They appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature-spirits." — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 69-70.*


To wrap this up: "Overcoming Racism through Anthroposophy" comes from the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. As long as Waldorf schools and their associations continue to defend Steiner's teachings on race, they will not be able to truly expunge the racism that festers in their belief system. 


[If you'd like to see some of Steiner's racial teachings in a form where nothing at all can be considered out of context, because whole lectures are reprinted verbatim, see "Forbidden", "Also Forbidden", and "Lecture".]





* I realize that a quotation dotted with excisions and interpolations may seem fishy. Have I misrepresented Steiner? Have I twisted his words? No; I have simply tried to make his tortured prose more readily comprehensible. If you'd like to tackle this passage in its entirety, from the first word I quoted through the last, here it is:


"Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind, since they have not developed their eternal life-kernel. Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial for. I cannot today speak about the whole series of possibilities, in the course of earthly evolution, for man to become one with the race, to grow together with what is the character of one race or another. Think of the Atlantean race; souls have gone through it, but not all have passed out of it. There are 16 possibilities of becoming merged with the race. They are called the '16 paths of perdition'. On these paths man would merge with the material. By striving forward, however, he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages. [paragraph break] We see then that it is actually possible for a person to combine with one incarnation in such a way that he remains behind in evolution. His other soul-brothers are therefore at a higher stage when he reappears in a new incarnation. He must then content himself with an inferior incarnation which has been left to him in a decadent race. This is something that positively takes place. It need not frighten people, however, for the present phase of evolution. No one is obliged to take all the 16 paths and thereby fall out of evolution. We must only be aware of the possibility. [paragraph break] Now let us take an extreme case and imagine that a person unites too fully with what is to constitute the character of an incarnation. Let us suppose he reaches what is to be reached in 16 incarnations; he takes the 16 false paths. The earth does not wait for him, the earth goes forward and he finally arrives at a point where he can no longer incorporate in a human body, for none are in existence. There will be no more bodies in which souls that have grown too much involved in their bodily nature can incarnate. Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity. Just think what they will have lost. It is possible, but only in exceptional cases, that even during earth evolution souls will be unable to incarnate because there are no more bodies bad enough. These people have gone so far that they have no other opportunity of incarnating in the normal course of evolution. Let us suppose such beings should remain on the earth — it will only be in single cases. And now, since the later is the fruit of the earlier, these would then find no bodies suitable for them. They are, as it were, too good for the bodies of a subordinate order and for the other bodies that are too bad. They must therefore live a bodiless existence. They must cut themselves off entirely from the progress of evolution. Why have they deserved this? By reason of the fact that they have not made use of life! The world is around them; they have possessed senses in order to perceive the world, to enrich the life-kernel and mould it to a higher stage. They do not advance with world evolution, they remain behind at a certain stage. Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch with approximately the character of the earlier age. They have grown together with it, but not in the forms of the later epoch. They appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature-spirits."  — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 69-70.














September, 2011:







"In the autumn, at harvest season, 
we celebrate Michaelmas 
(pronounced Mick-el-mas). 
Michaelmas is September 29th 
and celebrates the forces 
of the Archangel Michael 
(usually pronounced Myk-i-el), 
the time-spirit of this epoch ... 
The Michaelic forces imbue us 
with the confidence and courage
to look to the spiritual world ... 
Michael represents the unconquered hero, 
fighting against evil and the powers of darkness ...
We celebrate with a play about St. George, 
the human counterpart of Michael, 
taming the dragon."
[Eugene Waldorf School

The school isn't playing around. 
It affirms Anthroposophical doctrine.
[For more on the "powers of darkness", 
see "Evil Ones".]





From The Register Guard:


The Eugene Waldorf School [Oregon, USA] will present an outdoor medieval play at 11:15 a.m. Thursday. Grades one through eight will perform a pageant with gnomes, farmers, villagers, royalty, St. George and a dragon. The play celebrates Michaelmas, which takes place near the autumnal equinox. Bring a picnic for after the play.  






Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf schools use colorful events like this to recruit new families and to charm the parents of current students. Such festivals can be fun. But they are also significant in ways that may not be immediately apparent. Michaelmas is a religious holiday, the celebration of the archangel Michael. In Waldorf belief, Michael is the warrior-god who oversees the current stage of human evolution — as the Eugene Waldorf School says, he is the "time-spirit of this epoch." [See "Michael".] From the Waldorf perspective, a play about Michael's earthly representative slaying a dragon (the embodiment of demonic evil) is not merely a play — it is an enactment of Waldorf religious belief. If a Waldorf school presents itself as a nondenominational institution, you might ask why it celebrates Michaelmas. ("Founded in Europe in 1919, Waldorf Education now includes schools on every continent and has grown to become the world's largest independent, nondenominational school system...." http://www.eugenewaldorf.org/ourschool/philosophy/)

Things get stranger the more you inquire. According to Rudolf Steiner, beings such as gnomes ("a pageant with gnomes...") really exist. Gnomes are "nature spirits" who live underground. [See "Gnomes".] In the Waldorf belief system, there are several other kinds of nature spirits, including sylphs (who live in the air), undines (who live in water), and "salamanders" (who live in fire). I kid you not. [See "Neutered Nature".] Michael represents one of the high spiritual powers recognized in the Waldorf religion, and nature spirits represent lowly spiritual powers recognized in the same belief system, called Anthroposophy. Waldorf schools exist to promote Anthroposophy. They usually go about this task quietly, indirectly, subtly. But go about it they do. [See "Here's the Answer" and "Spiritual Agenda".]

Much of what I have relayed here seems ridiculous. It is ridiculous. But I have not invented these things. These are beliefs that genuinely lurk below the colorful, pleasing surface of Waldorf schooling. [See, e.g., "Magical Arts - A Look at Festivals" and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]














September, 2011:






THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN

The Embodiment of Evil on Earth

(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006)





"I just got back from a parent’s meeting at our son’s school. And I’m stoked, pumped, awake. Why? Because I’m thrilled that he’s enjoying school, being nurtured in the environment he’s in, surrounded by families who are as engaged in their children’s education and upbringing as we are ... Big G attends The Waldorf School of Atlanta — a granola-eatin’, tree-huggin’, nature-lovin’ kinda place....


"Many of us grew up with ‘I want my MTV!’ in our heads ... TV is normal, right? In Waldorf, we’re taught that it’s best for our kids to avoid ‘screen time’ (TV, computers, etc.) for a number of reasons that I won’t go into here."  







Waldorf Watch Response:

Some people love Waldorf schools, and indeed the schools have numerous apparent attractions. Students' parents (whom Waldorf teachers view as outsiders [1]) are often extremely enthusiastic, at least initially. The subsequent disillusionment that many parents suffer can be very bitter. [See, e.g., “Our Experience”.]


Waldorf schools are usually lovely to look at, and they often profess lovely ideas. No TV. Sounds like a great idea, right? Clearly, kids today spend far too much time staring at TVs, computer screens, cell phone screens... Surely it is better to go outdoors, run around, see the Earth and the sky, and just plain feel joyously alive.


Yes, there is much that may seem attractive in the Waldorf approach. But don’t look only at the Waldorf surface. Look beneath the surface. What, for instance, is the real reason Waldorf schools oppose TV? They think that TV and, indeed, all high-tech gizmos are under the dominion of the dreadful demon Ahriman. I kid you not. 


“Everything that has arisen in recent times in the way of materialistic science and industrial technology is of an out-and-out ahrimanic nature [i.e., possessed by Ahriman]...” — Rudolf Steiner, GUARDIAN ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 55.


There may be some good reasons for sending your child to a Waldorf school. You and s/he may enjoy the school. But don’t fool yourself. The thinking behind Waldorf schools is occult, backward, and delusional. Unless you believe in Ahriman and all the other bizarre beings Waldorf teachers believe in, you may be headed for a rude awakening.


For more on Ahriman, see “Ahriman”. For a glimpse of other invisible beings that Waldorf teachers believe in, see “Neutered Nature” and “Beings”. Or maybe just ponder this: 


“In the human astral body [2] other beings are embedded like maggots in cheese — forgive the unappetizing comparison — but it is so. And in fact the astral beings [3] which are embedded in, and connected with, the human astral body are those whom I have described as having their real habitat on the moon or Mars ... They are here the parasites of men ... [T]he preponderance of moon beings or Mars beings of this nature circling through a man gives his lymph its special character. If more moon beings circulate through his body he is a man who inclines more easily to wrong-doing, irritation and anger, if more Mars beings, then he is a man who is more inclined to gentleness, kindliness, mildness.”    — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 1, Ga 102.


Choose a Waldorf school for your child, if you want. But choose it with your eyes open, bearing in mind that Waldorf schools are also called Steiner schools because the “wisdom” of Rudolf Steiner guides them. You have just read some of this wisdom.





[1] Here is Rudolf Steiner addressing Waldorf teachers. He categorizes the students' parents as outsiders ("people outside the school") and sharply limits how much information the faculty can give to parents. 

"We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, that is, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 10. 

Steiner here clearly categorizes students' parents as outsiders ("people outside the school"). The "insiders" at a Waldorf school are the Anthroposophical initiates who usually run the school through a body called the College of Teachers.

[2] The "astral body" is one of three invisible bodies you possess. See "Incarnation".

[3] Invisible beings from the astral plane, the soul world.














September, 2011:






Play frame

[A Waldorf Home]





"An introduction to our Waldorf inspired playroom. It is still very much incomplete and a work-in-progress. We’ve divided the room up into main sections, which we’ll be covering in later posts: The play frame, The reading corner, Home corner, The bird table. The walls have been kept plain white, with illustrations (Elsa Beskow scenes), posters, calendars and accessories providing colour. The floor is rather brightly hued, albeit well cushioned, with play mats, with floor cushions brought in for reading. We have very little plastic in the room, but couldn’t quite part with the Lego table, which still contains boxes of Lego, alongside the gnomes and wooden play furniture."  







Waldorf Watch Response:

Many people take inspiration from various elements of the Waldorf lifestyle. Waldorf schools and communities emphasize art, wooden toys, homemade bread, green values, play rather than academics, dreamy myths and legends, natural fabrics, and so forth. Some parents and teachers try to use Waldorf methods without first investigating the reasons for them — that is, Waldorf/Anthroposophical doctrines. There are multiple dangers in this. The Waldorf approach makes little sense without the foundation of the Waldorf ideology. For instance, Waldorf schools usually put off teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic until children turn seven. This deprives kids of the benefits of early childhood education, thus depriving them of instruction that research shows can confer lifelong benefits. There are Anthroposophical reasons for delaying academics in Waldorf schools, but these reasons make no sense outside of Anthroposophy and its fantasies. Instead, the results in the real world can be quite harmful. 


At a fundamental level, Waldorf turns its back on the modern world, rejecting much that is wrong with contemporary society along with much that is good in contemporary society, such as modern knowledge. Of course, shielding children from the worst of modern culture (violence, graphic sex, excessive materialism, etc.) is obviously desirable. Certainly children need to be loved and protected. But the rejection of modern life can go too far, becoming a retreat into fantasy, an almost willful blindness. Children need to be prepared to lead fulfilling lives in the real world, not dream lives in fantasy worlds.


The Waldorf approach is not simply an effort to give kids safe, "natural," play-filled childhoods. It is meant to preserve young kids' natural clairvoyant ties to the spirit realm and to assist the incarnation of the kids' "etheric bodies." Unless you believe in natural clairvoyance and etheric bodies, none of this makes sense. Adopting Waldorf methods means depriving children of real benefits (such as the advantages of early childhood education) in exchange for entirely fictitious, nonexistent benefits (natural clairvoyance and etheric bodies). Likewise, you should realize that the sweet myths told in Waldorf schools are, according to Waldorf belief, true accounts of the spirit realm, and the cute little creatures such as gnomes that surround young Waldorf students represent, according to Waldorf belief, beings that really exist and that really surround us at all times. 


You may elect to tell your children Waldorf-style myths without intending to convey Waldorf beliefs, and you may surround your children with gnomes and other fantasy characters without intending to teach the kids that such beings really exist. And maybe this will work out for you and your children; maybe no great harm will result. But if you use materials supplied by Waldorf schools or Waldorf homeschooling services, etc., you may well be unintentionally introducing your child to an unearthly, occult viewpoint that can remain rooted in the child's heart and mind for many years, perhaps for a lifetime, with potentially debilitating effects. 


Waldorf focuses on "higher worlds," imaginary spirit realms, not the real world. The Waldorf approach often fails to prepare kids for real lives in the real world — and this can be a severe disservice to the children you love. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda", "Methods", "Beings", "Thinking Cap", "Coming Undone", "Neutered Nature", "Incarnation", "Failure", "Occultism", and "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]


You should also know that many of the more appealing components of the Waldorf approach are offered to the general public with the intention of snaring the unwary. The Waldorf movement is quite prepared to co-opt all parts of your life and your family's life. You can, for instance, buy such books as THE WALDORF BOOK OF BREADS, THE WALDORF SCHOOL BOOK OF SOUPS, THE WALDORF BOOK OF POETRY, THE WALDORF ALPHABET BOOK, THE WALDORF SONG BOOK, THE WALDORF KINDERGARTEN SNACK BOOK, etc. There are Waldorf guides to parenting, the spiritual role of the wife, "common sense" education, spiritually acceptable toys, and the like. Tread carefully.














September, 2011:





"Steiner education, also known as Waldorf education....


"Works for all children irrespective of academic ability, class, ethnicity or religion;


"Takes account of the needs of the whole child – academic, physical, emotional and spiritual;


"Is based on an understanding of the relevance of the different phases of child development... [etc.]"  







Waldorf Watch Response:

This is typical of the sort of disinformation that is often served up to promote Waldorf schooling. Unless a description of Waldorf schooling includes references to the occult, higher worlds, gods, and other Anthroposophical beliefs, you know that much is being concealed. (Sometimes this is inadvertent, because the writer doesn't know much about the bases of Waldorf education. But sometimes it is quite deliberate.)


Let's consider ethnicity, for instance ("Steiner education works of all children irrespective of...ethnicity"). The Waldorf system is built on the idea that north/central Europe is the home of the highest, most evolved humans — sometimes called Aryans. The culture of these white people — much of which is reflected in their ancient myths (Norse myths) — is the highest on Earth. Other, darker peoples are less evolved. 


◊ “One can only understand history and all of social life, including today's social life, if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual in the correct sense if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin." — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), p. 52.

 

◊ “On one side we find the black race, which is earthly at most. If it moves to the West, it becomes extinct. We also have the yellow race, which is in the middle between earth and the cosmos. If it moves to the East, it becomes brown, attaches itself too much to the cosmos, and becomes extinct. The white race is the future, the race that is creating spirit.” — Ibid., p. 62. (Among other things, Steiner is saying that each race should stay "where it belongs.")


◊ "[T]he Europeans have ascended to a higher level of culture, while [others] have remained behind and become decadent. One must always pay attention to this evolutionary process. It can be described as follows. In the course of millennia our planet transforms itself, and this transformation also demands a development of humankind. Those side branches that no longer fit in to current conditions become decadent. Thus we have an upright evolutionary trunk as well as side branches which decay." — Rudolf Steiner, MENSCHHEITSENTWICKELUNG UND CHRISTUS-ERKENNTNIS, pp. 243-44.


[For more on the distressing topic of the racism lurking in Anthroposophy, see "Steiner's Racism", "Embedded Racism", and "Races".]





Let's consider "the needs of the whole child" as conceived by Rudolf Steiner and his followers ("Steiner education takes account of the needs of the whole child"). The "whole child," in Waldorf belief, is a complex being. S/he has twelve senses, s/he will be born four times, s/he will develop three invisible bodies (the etheric body, the astral body, and the "I"), s/he has a karma, s/he embodies one of four temperaments (phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, melancholic), s/he has an astrological sign and its attendant horoscope, s/he has a dark spiritual double (doppelgänger), s/he will develop invisible organs of clairvoyance if she evolves properly, s/he has a heart that does not pump blood, s/he has a brain that is not the seat of cognition, and so on. Educating the "whole child" — head, heart, and hands — certainly sounds good. But as always when dealing with Waldorf, you should look below the surface of any fine-sounding phrases you are offered. 


[See "Holistic Education".]





And let's delve into the "phases of childhood development"  ("Steiner education is based on an understanding of the relevance of the different phases of child development"). According to the occult theories behind Waldorf schooling, the three childhood phases run from a) birth to age 7, b) age 7 to age 14, and c) age 14 to age 21. During the first phase, children exist in a dreamy memory of the spirit worlds from which they came to Earth. This condition lasts until the "etheric body" incarnates, an event signaled by the loss of baby teeth. (Plants and animals also have etheric bodies.) 


“Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being develop and mature at different times ... According to Steiner, one of the indicators of the birth or emancipation of the etheric body is the loss of the child's baby teeth, which takes place at the age of seven.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents, and Teachers (SteinerBooks, 2017), pp. 4-5. 


Note that Waldorf education is based on these weird concepts.


The second phase of childhood, according to Waldorf belief, finds children still unable to think very much; instead, they are deeply emotional. They have imaginative powers (an early stage of clairvoyance) and will develop intuitive powers (a higher stage of clairvoyance). This phase ends when the "astral body" incarnates, an event signaled by puberty. (Animals also have astral bodies; plants do not.) 


The third phase finds children slowly developing the ability to think, including intellectual thought — but such thinking is deemed superficial and unreliable. [See "Steiner's Specific".] According to Anthroposophical belief, clairvoyance is the reliable form of cognition, and children approaching adulthood can develop powers of inspiration, the third stage of clairvoyance. The third phase of childhood ends at age 21, when the "I" incarnates. (The "I" is divine human spiritual selfhood. No animal or plant has an "I", and no human can know your "I" except yourself.) 


[See "Incarnation".]





These are some of the beliefs that lie behind fine-sounding Waldorf PR. Unless they make perfect sense to you, you will probably find Waldorf unsatisfactory.














September, 2011:





Gnome figures can often be found in classrooms for the lower grades at Waldorf schools. Gnomes are real, you see.

 “There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth.”  — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-63.





"You’re invited to try our NatureTots program with a complimentary class on Monday, September 12th at 9 am. During this two hour session, you and your child will meet the teacher, visit our beautiful Meshewa campus and facilities [Ohio, USA] and learn more about this exceptional parent/child program. We look forward to seeing you. Spaces are limited so please RSVP."  







Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf schools like to begin ministering to children when the kids are as young as possible. They want to undo the damage that you, as a parent, have done. As Rudolf Steiner said to Waldorf teachers, 


"You will have to take over children for their education and instruction — children who will have received already (as you must remember) the education, or mis-education given them by their parents.” [1] 


So Waldorf schools should take charge, the earlier the better. 


"[I]t might almost be preferable from a moral viewpoint if children could be taken into [our] care soon after birth.” [2]


“Nature tots” — the idea that children should be raised in a “natural” environment — certainly sounds attractive. There is much to be said for it. But bear in mind that the Waldorf attitude toward nature is not all flowers and rainbows. Rudolf Steiner taught that nature is the abode of various “nature spirits” such as gnomes or goblins, and these beings sometimes have hostile intentions toward humanity. 


“[T]hese beings are not all benevolent ... Now someone might say: Why then are these malevolent gnomes [allowed to be] there...?” [3] 


Ah, for a very good reason. Gnomes may not like us or understand us (“Gnomes are...unable to grasp how there can be anything but an ineffectual relationship with this world” [4]), but they benefit us nonetheless. 


“The predecessors of our Earth-gnomes, the Moon-gnomes, gathered together their Moon-experiences and from them fashioned this structure, this firm structure of the solid fabric of the Earth, so that our solid Earth-structure actually arose from the experiences of the gnomes of the old Moon.” [5]


Parents, if you want your children to be “educated” by people who believe such things, then check out a Waldorf school by all means. 


[For more about the Waldorf view of nature, see "Neutered Nature". For more about gnomes, see "Gnomes".]





From a mother who sent her children to a Waldorf school (before taking them out):


"The felt gnome in my son's Waldorf classroom sat on a shelf near the top of the chalkboard. I remember the class teacher telling a group of parents that the gnome's role was to watch the children while he was out of the classroom. He said it with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, so my reaction was that it was funny and cute. I assumed it was intended as a big joke and that all the other parents shared that assumption. It never occurred to me the gnome might have a different significance for the children. But, in retrospect, I don't remember my children ever including gnomes in their conversation or play.


"The teacher spoke of the gnome affectionately. I think he said the gnome's name was George. It's really weird to look back now, picturing all those adults sitting at their children's desks, listening attentively to a man who, unknown to us, believed his guru could see real gnomes. It's like something out of a Monty Python skit."  — Margaret Sachs


But it wasn't funny.

[See "Gnomes".]





[1] Rudolf Steiner, THE STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 16.

[2] Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 69.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, "Man as Symphony of the Creative World" (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture, November 3, 1923. 

[4]  Rudolf Steiner, CHANCE, PROVIDENCE, AND NECESSITY (SteinerBooks, 1988), p. 95.

[5]  Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 9.














August, 2011:





Here is a tabulation of Waldorf schools worldwide as of March, 2011, taken from an apparently reliable source. I have translated the list from German and realphabetized it according to English spellings.



Number of the Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner schools worldwide - March, 2011


Africa:

   Egypt: 1, Kenya: 2; Namibia: 1; South Africa: 17; Tanzania: 1. 

   Total for Africa: 22.


The Americas:

   Argentina: 10; Brazil: 32; Chili: 5; Canada: 21; Columbia: 4; Mexico: 5; Peru: 13; USA: 130. 

   Total for the Americas: 211.


Asia:

   Armenia: 1; China: 1; Georgia: 1; India: 5; Israel: 7; Japan: 6; Kazakhstan: 2; Kirgistan: 1; Korea: 2; Nepal: 2; Philippines: 3; Taiwan: 3; Tajikistan: 1; Thailand: 2. 

   Total for Asia: 36. 


Europe:

   Austria: 15; Belgium: 22; Czech Republic: 13; Croatia: 2; Denmark: 16; Estonia: 6; Finland: 24; France: 11; Germany: 222; Great Britain: 32; Hungary: 25; Iceland: 2; Ireland: 3; Italy: 32; Latvia: 2; Liechtenstein: 1; Lithuania: 3; Luxembourg: 1; Moldavia: 1; Netherlands: 92; Norway: 34; Poland: 5; Romania: 13; Russia: 18; Slovakia: 1; Slovenia: 2; Spain: 7; Sweden: 41; Switzerland: 35; Ukraine: 5. 

   Total for Europe: 686.


Oceania:

   Australia: 33; New Zealand: 10. 

   Total for Oceania: 43.


Number of Waldorf schools worldwide:   998







Waldorf Watch Response:

The Waldorf movement claims to be international, and — in at least a technical sense — it is. But Waldorf schools are clustered in specific areas, particularly areas dominated by whites who derive from northern and central Europe. [1] Of the total number of Waldorf schools, 70% are in Europe, approximately 55% are in northerly Europe [2], and approximately 22% are in Germany alone (24% if we include Austria).


The nation having the largest concentration of Waldorf schools outside Germany is the USA: Approximately 13% of all Waldorf schools are in the United States. If we add the other predominantly white former colonies of Great Britain (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa [3]), the resulting group — predominantly white former British colonies — accounts for 21% of Waldorf schools worldwide.


If we add European Waldorf schools (70%) to Waldorf schools in predominantly white former British possessions (21%), the total is more than 90% of all Waldorf schools. Thus, fewer than 10% of Waldorf schools exist in regions that are not predominantly white.


Only 4% of Waldorf schools are found on the most populous continent, Asia. And less than 1% of Waldorf schools operate in the world’s most heavily populated countries, China and India. (If we include Taiwan with China, the total climbs only marginally, from .6% to .9%  We should also note that the totals for Asia include countries that are not usually considered Asian, such as Israel. If we subtract these countries, the Asian totals fall.)


Just 2% of Waldorf schools are in Africa. If we exclude Egypt (which is Middle Eastern) and South Africa (counting it among former British possessions), this drops to 0.4%.


There is one Waldorf school (0.1% of the total) in Arab or predominantly Muslin countries (i.e., this solitary school exists in Egypt).





[1] Racial distinctions are important in Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Racism" and "Races".] Steiner created Waldorf education for German children — white "Aryans" whom he deemed members of the most highly evolved and spiritual national/racial group.


[2] This is an amorphous region, extending more or less from the middle of Europe to its most northern countries. For this list, I have counted Belgium, the Czech Republic. Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.


[3] South Africa is anomalous. It is a majority black nation, but power was held by the white minority until 1994. There are 17 Waldorf schools in South Africa, accounting for most of the Waldorf schools in Africa. Zambia and Zimbabwe have histories similar South Africa’s, but there are no Waldorf schools in those countries.














August, 2011:















A statement posted by a Waldorf teacher-training program:


"The works of Rudolf Steiner (about 30 books written by himself or with collections of his own writings, and 6,000 lectures grouped into 270 volumes) have been published. There is absolutely nothing secret in Anthroposophy. It is not a religion and it has no cults. It is cultivated individually, in open study groups and in the institutions where it is practised." 






Waldorf Watch Response:

It is true that an enormous portion of Steiner's work is now publicly available. But it is not true that Anthroposophy has no secrets. Anthroposophy is a form of occultism, and even if we define "occult" in its most benign sense, meaning "secret," we begin to realize that much of Anthroposophy consists of secret knowledge. [See "Occultism".] Outsiders are often denied various parts of the occult canon. This is most worrisome in and around Waldorf schools. Parents are often not told the real nature and purpose of Waldorf education — which is to spread Anthroposophy. [See "Here's the Answer".]


Rudolf Steiner instructed his followers to withhold secrets from outsiders; he taught them that much spiritual knowledge must be withheld from the uninitiated. [See "Secrets" and "Inside Scoop".] Anthroposophists are torn between two impulses: the desire to spread their wondrous spiritual knowledge, and the need to conceal much of their wondrous spiritual knowledge. If you doubt that Anthroposophists, and in particular Waldorf faculties, are often secretive and deceitful, see the following, which consist largely of statements made by people who became ensnared in Waldorf schools: "Our Experience", "Coming Undone", "Moms", "Pops", "Our Brush with Rudolf Steiner", "I Went to Waldorf", etc. The very fact that Anthroposophists feel the need to deny that they are secretive should, at a minimum, alert you to a potential danger.


As for whether Anthroposophy is a religion — of course it is. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] As Rudolf Steiner said, 


"[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 706. 


Anthroposophy does not have any cults; Anthroposophy is a cult. [See, e.g., "Six Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education".]














July, 2011:





"Inspired by the growing success of arts-integrated Waldorf Education in private schools, a group of Mar Vista and Venice neighbors [California, USA] began organizing over a decade ago to create a public independent charter school in the Mar Vista neighborhood with an innovative arts-integrated program based upon the principles of Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf Education.

"In 2004 Ocean Charter School was born with a commitment to achieving academic excellence through creative learning, sparking imagination and fostering critical thinking.... 

"On June 21st of this year the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) School Board voted to approve leasing a two-acre portion of unused space on the Walgrove Elementary school campus to a charter school.

"The Ocean Charter School Board has announced plans to submit a proposal for LAUSD consideration....

"Offering an innovative arts-integrated program based upon the principles of Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf Education, Ocean Charter School (www.oceancs.org) is a public independent charter school within LAUSD serving K-8 students."  






Waldorf Watch Response:

When you read an article on Waldorf education that glows with admiration, you would do well to pause and consider. What, for example, is the "growing success" of Waldorf education? Success at what? Success for whom? 

Think also about such terms as "arts-integrated", "imagination," and "critical thinking." Waldorf schools are not monolithic, but at most Waldorf schools the arts are used as a means of connecting children with invisible spirit worlds. Do you believe that such worlds exist? Do you accept Rudolf Steiner's description of them? [See "Magical Arts" and "Higher Worlds".] 

Similarly, at most Waldorf schools, imagination is considered a form or stage of clairvoyance. Do you believe in clairvoyance? Do you believe in the sort of clairvoyance Waldorf teachers think they possess? [See "Exactly" and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".] 

And, far from fostering critical intelligence, most Waldorf schools reject such thinking or strive to reign it in. Do you agree that rational thinking should be downplayed? Do you think we should use our brains less? [See "Criticism" and "Steiner's Specific".]

You may find a Waldorf school that is just right for you and your child. But choose a Waldorf school only after you have dug deep to find the truth about that school. Waldorf schools are well practiced in hiding their secrets. [See "Secrets".]














June, 2011:










This is one of the central texts in Anthroposophy. 

It summarizes the spiritual-evolutionary discoveries 

Steiner claimed to make through the use of occult science.

The doctrines of Anthroposophy provide 

the underlying rationale for Waldorf education.

 

AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE 

has been issued in numerous editions 

by various publishers and under a variety of titles. 

[Aziloth Books, 2011.]





The following is taken from a Waldorf/Steiner school’s description of its curriculum, tailored by the school for public consumption:


“The key underlying principle of the curriculum is a commitment to working with Steiner's developmental insights. These are contained in a series of books and lectures which form on-going study material for the teachers in our school. 

 

“These insights affirm: 

 

“That each child is unique, with their own path in life.  

 

“That the teacher's aim is to support the emerging individual in their all-round development.  

 

“That each stage of a child’s development requires a different approach to education.  In kindergarten, learning is based on imitation, whilst during the Lower School years, children learn through their imagination.   

 

“That artistic and imaginative teaching enables all pupils to access the subject with enthusiasm and understanding, regardless of ability.  

 

“That lesson content needs to mirror the pupil's developmental stage.  

 

“That lesson content needs to be related back to the human being in a moral and inspiring manner... etc.]”  







Waldorf Watch Response:

To understand a Waldorf document, it is often necessary to read between the lines. Waldorf documents are often couched in euphemistic terms meant to disguise the esotericism that lurks in the Waldorf worldview. In this instance, you have been reading a portion of the “curriculum policy” posted by the Exeter Steiner School, in the UK. Here is a brief gloss:


◊ “[O]n-going [sic] study material for the teachers in our school”: Waldorf teacher training usually places a heavy emphasis on the esoteric doctrines of Rudolf Steiner. [See “Teacher Training”.] The study of such doctrines continues after teachers join Waldorf faculties. Often, the inner circle of teachers at a Waldorf School constitutes a “college of teachers” that meets to study and discuss Steiner’s works. [See “Waldorf Now” and “Faculty Meetings”.]

◊ “Steiner's developmental insights”:  Rudolf Steiner was an occultist. [See “Occultism”.] His “insights” are enshrined in his occult belief system, Anthroposophy. His primary “insight” about children is that each child is born four times. The physical body is born, then at age 7 the etheric body is born, at 14 the astral body is born, and the ”I” is born at age 21. The Waldorf curriculum is geared to this baseless doctrine. [See “Incarnation”.]

◊ “[E]ach child is unique, with their own path in life”: This is a reference to karma, a basic Anthroposophical doctrine. In Waldorf belief, children are reincarnating spirits who, during earthly life, try to fulfill their unique karmas. Waldorf teachers try to help the children in this task. [See “Karma”.]

◊ “[T]he teacher's aim is to support the emerging individual in their all-round development.” Note that the aim is not to teach the children — the aim is not to impart information. The aim is to support the incarnation and development of children according to the karmic seven-year cycles posited by Steiner (birth of the etheric body, birth of the astral body...). [See “Most Significant”.]

◊ “All-around development” sounds good. Waldorf schools often claim to educate “the whole child.” What the schools mean, however, is bizarre. In Waldorf belief, each child has a karma, an astrological identity, a spiritually important racial identity, both a soul and a spirit, several invisible bodies (incarnating sooner or later), twelve senses, and so on. The Waldorf conception of human nature is mystical and unreal. [See “Holistic Education”.]

◊ “[E]ach stage of a child’s development requires a different approach to education.” Waldorf teachers believe that as children grow up, they repeat the evolutionary history of humanity.  [See “Today”.] Thus, for instance, children in the sixth grade are considered to be at the level of ancient Romans and their classes are shaped to be appropriate for ancient Romans. [See "Oh My Stars".] This foolish doctrine regiments the students, requiring them to study subjects in pointlessly constrained formats, regardless of individual interests or capacities.

◊ “[A]rtistic and imaginative teaching”: This is one of the most appealing aspects of Waldorf schooling. Waldorf teachers try to be artistic and imaginative in their teaching, and they encourage students to create art and to use their imaginations. You should realize, however, that in Waldorf schools the arts are meant to create direct connections to spirit worlds [see “Magical Arts”], and imagination is considered a stage of clairvoyance [see “Thinking Cap”, “Steiner’s ‘Science’”, and “Clairvoyance”]. Often, Waldorf teachers actually believe themselves to be clairvoyant, and they use this "gift" on their students. [See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

◊ “[L]esson content needs to be related back to the human being in a moral and inspiring manner.” This is an indirect reference to the underlying religious nature of Waldorf education. Anthroposophy is a polytheistic religion that stresses both morality and inspiration, and it looks forward to the deification of humanity. [See "Tenth Hierarchy" and "The Center".] You may want a religious education for your child, but before sending her/him to a Waldorf school, check to determine whether the doctrines of Anthroposophy are acceptable to you. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?” and "Spiritual Agenda".]

I think we can leave off here. The curriculum policy at the Exeter Steiner School contains many more passages. I encourage you to read the entire policy and endeavor to find the Anthroposophical doctrines behind each passage. [If you are not well-versed in Anthroposophical doctrines, "The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia" and "Here's the Answer" might prove helpful.]














June, 2011:





Written by a teacher at the Sunrise Waldorf School (Duncan, BC, Canada):



By protecting our children’s youth

We feel we help them gain truth

We do not agree with modern day songs

We believe they are immoral and wrong


We want all students to learn to think on their own

And not just learn what is known

We believe reading and writing should not be the only goals

Children need to learn to become one with their souls


We believe we should help foster children to feel

For them this is how the world becomes real

We want them to have a better understanding of reality

And not just give into normality.

  

[6-27-2011  http://hubpages.com/hub/See-What-the-Sunshine-Waldorf-School-is-all-About]






Waldorf Watch Response:

This is the beginning of a poem written to explain Waldorf schooling. It lays out many Waldorf beliefs in fairly open style, although none of the concepts is explained in any depth.


Let’s pitch in and provide some of the background needed to fully grasp the poem.

Line 1: Waldorf schools try to protect “our children’s youth” because they want to prevent children from growing up quickly. They believe that children are newly reincarnated beings who arrive on Earth with memories of the spirit realm. These memories will be preserved if the kids are kept as young as possible for as long as possible. Thus, Waldorf schools actually want to retard their students' maturation. [See “Thinking Cap”.]

Line 2: The “truth” Waldorf schools wish to convey is Anthroposophy. The schools generally present Anthroposophy to the students indirectly and subtly, but they present it. [See “Spiritual Agenda” and “Soul School”.]

Lines 3-4: Some "modern day" [sic] songs certainly are immoral and wrong, but this blanket condemnation obviously goes too far. It reflects a fundamental Waldorf attitude, however. Waldorf schools try to shield students from most modern music, modern art, modern technology, and modern knowledge. The schools are far more comfortable with the “wisdom” of ancient peoples. [See “The Ancients: Mistaking Ignorance for Wisdom” and "The Gods".]

Line 5: “Thinking” is a peculiar concept, in the Waldorf universe. There is a deep anti-intellectual bias at Waldorf schools and a belief that real thinking is not done in the brain. “Real” thinking, in Waldorf belief, is clairvoyance, which doesn’t happen in any physical organ. [See “Steiner’s Specific”.]

Line 6: Waldorf schools devalue “what is known.” In most mainstream schools, “what is known” is called knowledge and it is the focus of the educational process. But in Waldorf schools, ordinary, real-world knowledge is considered fairly unimportant. The focus, instead, is on helping the students to incarnate their invisible bodies. [I kid you not. See “Incarnation”.]

Line 7: In accordance with what we have already seen, Waldorf schools postpone reading, writing, a ‘rithemtic (the 3 R’s) until the children turn seven or so — this is the time when, in Waldorf belief, the “etheric body” incarnates. Academic standards in general are often low at Waldorf schools, and students there may take a very long time to catch up with students at other kinds of schools; some may never catch up. [See “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.]

Line 8: Waldorf schools are indeed more interested in their students’ souls than in their brains. Waldorf schools are disguised religious institutions, fronting for the pagan, polytheistic religion created by Rudolf Steiner, called Anthroposophy. Waldorf teachers consider themselves to be priests who serve the divine cosmic plan of the gods. [See “Here’s the Answer”, “Prayers”, and “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”]

Lines 9-10: Feeling is more important than thinking, in Waldorf education. Rudolf Steiner taught that we should trust our hearts more than our heads, and he said that emotion rather than thought can lead us to the spirit realm. Waldorf schools try to teach students to feel about things as Anthroposophists feel about things. [See “Reality and Fantasy” and “Spiritual Agenda”.] (The phrase "foster children" can be confusing. The writer is not referring to children in foster homes; s/he means that Waldorf teachers encourage all children to trust their feelings — "we should help foster children to feel.")

Lines 11-12: “Normality” is what most people would call the real world. But Waldorf schools do not care much about the real world. They are interested in the “higher worlds” that Rudolf Steiner described. “A better understanding of reality” looks past the real world and tries to discover the higher worlds that are populated by tiers of gods, many of whom preside over planets and stars, and who affect human life through their astrological powers, among other ways. [See “Higher Worlds”, “Polytheism”, and “Waldorf Astrology”.]

That’s probably enough for now. There are more stanzas to the poem, but I leave it to you to read and decode them.













June, 2011:










"Teachers and children play a game 

at Fengdan Waldorf Children'Home." 

[Guo Shuhan / China Daily]





“Schools adopting the educational principles developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner are becoming increasingly popular with Chinese parents. Lin Qi and Guo Shuhan report.


“...In 1919, a school based upon the educational principles of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner opened in Stuttgart, Germany, to cater to children of employees of a cigarette factory called Waldorf-Astoria.


“The name Waldorf then became a trademark of schools adopting Steiner's educational approach, which emphasizes interdisciplinary learning and creative thinking, and aims to develop a child into a free-spirited, morally responsible and integrated individual.


“...[S]tudents are given no textbooks, just an empty notebook to note down what they have learnt. For instance, one day the teacher taught them the idiom hu jia hu wei (a fox borrows a tiger' fierceness) and asked students to not only write down the four characters but also draw a picture to capture the idea.”  







Waldorf Watch Response:

Despite the inherent difficulties, Waldorf schools have been opened in countries all around the world. The Waldorf approach can certainly be made to seem attractive, perhaps all the more so when it is promoted to families who have no previous knowledge of Waldorf methods and the underlying Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy. The spread of Waldorf schools is largely attributable to the work of devout Anthroposophists who consider themselves to be on a holy mission.


There are many potential problems for Asian parents who elect Waldorf schooling for their children. One is the racism in the Waldorf worldview. Rudolf Steiner taught that white central Europeans — in particular, Germans — are more highly evolved than other peoples. He said that individuals’ spiritual condition is reflected in the color of their skin. [See “Steiner’s Racism”, “Races”, and “Differences”.]  


Racism may not be expressed openly in a Waldorf school; the teachers may make a concerted effort to treat children of all races well. But racism is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove from the Waldorf ideology. Steiner taught that humans reincarnate into various racial forms. A good, moral human will reincarnate in a higher, whiter race, whereas a wicked, benighted human will reincarnate in a lower, darker race. Steiner said that white people are more evolved, having separated themselves from the lowly residents of Atlantis. 

“[O]ur white civilized humankind originated because certain elements segregated themselves from the Atlanteans [the people of Atlantis] and developed themselves higher here, under different climatic conditions. Certain elements of the Atlantean population remained behind, at earlier levels; thus we can see that the peoples of Asia and America are remnants of the various Atlantean races.” — Rudolf Steiner, DIE WELTRÄTSEL UND DIE ANTHROPOSOPHIE (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 145. [See “Steiner’s Bile”.]


Anthroposophists use many rationalizations to justify Steiner's racial views, but all parents should realize that Anthroposophy posits a hierarchy of races, with whites at the top, blacks at the bottom, and red and yellow races in-between. Anyone who believes in full human equality must reject such thinking. And sending children to a school that fails to utterly reject such thinking can never be appropriate. Steiner's followers almost never repudiate anything Steiner said — they want to believe that he was a great spiritual leader who only spoke the deep, spiritual truth. If they admit that he was wrong in one area — such as race — they open the possibility that he may have been wrong in other areas as well, and to them this is almost unthinkable.














June, 2011:





"Understanding Waldorf Education ebook - Written by a teacher with more than 25 years of experience, this book offers a jargon-free view of Waldorf schools with their philosophy of the importance of a three-dimensional education."  






Waldorf Watch Response:

Steiner/Waldorf publications are increasingly available in electronic form. UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION, by Jack Petrash, originally appeared in print form in 2002 (Gryphon House). Like most explications of Waldorf education written for the uninitiated, it can mislead more than inform, unless you read it with great care. Thus, for instance, on p. 26 Petrash explains that "fact-based" education is faulty: 

"This is the obvious flaw in fact-based instruction. Whether we were taught about the solar system, the Soviet Union, or computers, much of what we had to learn in school is outdated." 

This statement is perfectly true, but it conceals Petrash's real meaning. In Waldorf schools, ordinary knowledge is devalued. The emphasis is on spiritual incarnation, not on teaching kids information about the real world. [See "Incarnation".] Steiner associated libraries with "dead" knowledge, and he dismissed the work of most scholars. He taught that the brain is a relatively unimportant organ; he said that real knowledge is not gained through use of the brain. [See "Clairvoyance", "Thinking Cap", and "Thinking".] The Waldorf approach steers away from factual information — "fact-based education" — because, at base, it is an occult system that stresses myths and legends while dismissing much of modern scholarship, knowledge, and science.

It is certainly true that facts change, and what is new now will be old and perhaps obsolete in the future. But this surely does not mean that education should minimize the importance of facts. We should teach kids the facts about our world, and we should teach them how to stay abreast of information as it changes in the future. In other words, we should teach them to use their brains. But this is precisely what Waldorf schools steer away from. Steiner taught that the brain is destructive. 

"[T]he materialistic brain [i.e., the physical organ called the brain] represents a process of decay: materialistic thinking [i.e., use of the physical organ, the brain] unfolds only through processes of destruction, death-processes, which are taking place in the brain.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 147.

Waldorf education is appropriate only for people who believe such propositions as these: 

◊ "[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition." — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE  (SteinerBooks, 1996), p. 60]

◊ "Within the brain nothing at all exists of the nature of thought." — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Kessinger, facsimile of 1929 edition), p. 88.

Indeed, Waldorf education is not "fact-based." It is fallacy-based. 

Anthroposophists continue to affirm Steiner's view of the brain today. E.g., 

"The brain does not produce thoughts" — Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books - Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 16.





As for Petrash's curious phrase, "three-dimensional education," this is an allusion to the Waldorf effort to educate the whole child — head, heart, and hands. [See "Holistic Education".] The hands are "educated" by spending a surprising amount of class time on such activities as knitting. The heart is "educated" by learning to feel about things as Anthroposophists feel about them. (This is, indeed, the main way that Anthroposophy is conveyed to Waldorf students. [See "Spiritual Agenda".]) The head is "educated" by learning to slow down, distrust itself, and not think about things too much. [See "Steiner's Specific — Thinking Without Our Brains".] Parts of the Waldorf approach are attractive, but at its core the Waldorf approach is deeply anti-intellectual; it is devoted to the Anthroposophical form of occult spirituality instead of providing a real education about the real world.)















June, 2011:





“Representatives from Montessori and Steiner awarding bodies and trainers are due to meet for a second time later this month with CWDC [Children’s Workforce Development Council] and Department for Education officials [UK], in an attempt to resolve the dispute about the validity of their qualifications....


“Both Montessori and Steiner awarding bodies are seeking continued recognition for their level 4 qualifications and exemption from the CWDC level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce.


“...Janni Nichol, early childhood representative for the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, confirmed that Steiner qualifications had also had their deadline extended.


“She said, 'We are waiting for the meeting to see if we might even be exempt from requirements to fit within CWDC requirements and have our training accepted as quality training for early years practitioners who wish to follow our specific philosophy and ethos.'”  







Waldorf Watch Response:

Steiner or Waldorf schools frequently seek exemptions from ordinary educational standards and assessments. Their “specific philosophy and ethos” are quite different from ordinary schools’ and may indeed not include much that would ordinarily be considered essential to a real education. [See, e.g., “Academic Standards at Waldorf”, “Soul School”, and “Spiritual Agenda”.]

Steiner schools and Montessori schools are sometimes mistaken for one another, and they do bear some superficial similarities. Both offer alternatives to conventional educational approaches, but the Steiner approach is rooted in occultism while the Montessori system is not. [See, e.g., “Ex-Teacher 5”.]







[Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995.]



[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996.]



Books such as these help reveal what is often denied, that the roots of Steiner or Waldorf schools extend down into occultism. There really should not be much doubt, however. Rudolf Steiner (for whom Steiner schools are named) often explicitly placed himself and his followers in the sphere of occultism. For example, 
 
◊ "In occultism therefore, we speak of the Mars half of Earth evolution and of the Mercury half."  — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), p. 80.

◊ "When speaking of bodies in occultism, we speak of solid, liquid and gaseous bodies." — Rudolf Steiner, “The Earth's Passage Through Its Former Planetary Conditions” (ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET 33-34, Aug. 23, 1942), GA 100.

 ◊ [I]n occultism we call the Moon the ‘Cosmos of Wisdom’ and the Earth the ‘Cosmos of Love.’" — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 6, GA 102.

The implications for Steiner or Waldorf schools are profound. Here's one more Steiner quotation: 

◊ “That we stand within such a stream as our spiritual scientific movement must be seen as grace bestowed by spiritual powers [i.e., the gods]: for this movement is a necessity of the future, and it has been granted to us to be the first to stand within this current that must flow into humanity’s future evolution if it is not to grow arid and wither away.  As an occultist one can see that such fertilization is absolutely necessary. Let us look on it as a grace and blessing that we may feel duty bound to offer a helping hand in this fertilizing process." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 275.

Note that by "spiritual science," Steiner meant his own form of Theosophy, that is, Anthroposophy. He tells us how "an occultist" looks upon what the gods have done and what human beings must do. Moreover, in discussing these things, Steiner indicates the motivation behind Waldorf schools and other Anthroposophical enterprises. Steiner told his followers that they are "the first" to possess the new spiritual wisdom that humanity must acquire in order to evolve properly. The "spiritual powers," the gods, gave Anthroposophists a holy mission "as a grace and a blessing" — Anthroposophists are "duty bound" to make sure that "humanity’s future evolution" goes as it should. If Anthroposophists do not discharge this mission, humanity will "grow arid and wither away," a truly terrible prospect. This is the ultimate reason that Waldorf schools are relatively uninterested in giving students a regular education. Anthroposophists think they are doing something far, far more important. [See "Occultism".]















May, 2011:





Certificate in Foundations of Rudolf Steiner Education - This Part Time Distance Education Course is primarily designed to provide teachers with the philosophical basis necessary to support teaching in a Rudolf Steiner school ... Qualification and Pathway: Participants who have completed the course successfully will receive a Certificate in Foundations of Rudolf Steiner Education from Sydney Rudolf Steiner College [Australia]. This Certificate will be important for those who are seeking employment in Steiner Schools.”  







Waldorf Watch Response:

Not all teachers at Waldorf or Steiner schools are devout followers of Rudolf Steiner. And even among those teachers who are deeply committed to Steiner, knowledge of Anthroposophical doctrines may be surprisingly incomplete. Waldorf teachers promote a crackpot system that at least some of them do not understand and have not thought through.* However, strong efforts are made in the Waldorf universe to ensure that most Waldorf teachers toe the Anthroposophical line. Training courses for would-be Waldorf teachers often spell out Steiner’s occult doctrines in some detail if not always in depth. Increasingly, new Waldorf teachers understand perfectly well that they are part of an occult network, even if they have not explored that network extensively. For this reason, it is wise to be skeptical when Waldorf teachers claim that Anthroposophical tenets have minimal influence at their schools. Such denials are often false. Steiner himself told Waldorf teachers to withhold many revelations from outsiders, including the parents of Waldorf students. Remember, the defining characteristic of “occult” knowledge — the kind that Steiner claimed to dispense and that Waldorf trainees are usually exposed to — is that it should be kept hidden from the uninitiated. [See “Teacher Training” and “Secrets”.]


There is a tension in Anthroposophy today. The need to preserve occult secrets clashes with the desire to spread the practice of Anthroposophy and to ensure that Waldorf teachers are correctly versed in Steiner’s doctrines. The Sydney Rudolf Steiner College seems to be reasonably forthright. Thus, in the biographical sketch of Steiner posted by the college, the crucial turning point in Steiner’s adult life — when he turned to occultism — is described in these words: 

“The respectable and often radical scholar, historian, scientist, writer and philosopher is emerging as [i.e., he became] an 'occultist'.” 

Only the quotation marks around the word “occultist” shows any shying away from the truth. (Steiner applied the word to himself without such marks. [See "Occultism".]) The college's descriptions of various courses it offers are revealing. Courses include “Life As a Spiritual Journey”, “Destiny Learning” [in Anthroposophy, destiny is karma]. “Dance of the Planets” [astrology is big in Anthroposophy], “Taming the Astral”, “Currents of the Logos”, “Rhythms in Meditation”, “Imaginative Cognition”, “Developing Inner Certainty - A Course in Inner Development”, and so on. If you know even a little about Anthroposophy, you will spot many core Anthroposophical concepts in these course titles.





* This also tends to be true among Steiner followers who are not Waldorf teachers. A fair proportion are surprisingly uninformed about the belief system they embrace. Check some of the discussions recorded at waldorfcritics.org. Time and again, you will find arguments made by people who fervently defend Steiner but who soon reveal, inadvertently, that they do not know what Steiner said on the points under discussion. Anthroposophy is a backward-looking faith that discounts modern knowledge, modern science, modern scholarship. People are drawn to Anthroposophy for reasons of spiritual longing, or pious hope, or fascination with the supernatural. But at least some of these individuals evidently have so little interest in knowledge that they don't bother to learn much about Anthroposophy itself. Of course, this is not true of all devotees of Rudolf Steiner's fantasies. Some Anthroposophists are deeply serious and knowledgeable students of Anthroposophical teachings. But quite a few are not.
















May, 2011:






Toddler program offered at Ashwood - Rockport [Maine, USA] — A new program for toddlers ages 18 months through 3 years old will be offered at Ashwood Waldorf School beginning in September.


“The year-long program follows the Ashwood school calendar and will meet twice weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. It will be similar in content to the early childhood programs already offered by the school, which emphasize language development, imaginative play, purposeful work, motor skills development, social opportunities, and artistic endeavors.”  







Waldorf Watch Response:

Extensive research has shown the great value of early-childhood educational programs such as Head Start [http://www.nhsa.org/]. Many Waldorf schools offer programs for very young children, but these should not be confused with early-childhood programs at other schools. Waldorf schools postpone the development of fundamental academic skills such as reading and arithmetic until at least first grade, and sometimes later. These academic skills form the very basis of many non-Waldorf early-childhood programs.


The reasons for the Waldorf approach are occult: Children aren’t considered ready for various studies and activities until their “etheric bodies” and, later, their “astral bodies" incarnate. This is nonsense, and it reflects the fallacious nature of Waldorf education in general. [See “Incarnation” and “Waldorf Curriculum”.]


Ashwood Waldorf school describes its programs in impressive language ("
language development, imaginative play, purposeful work..."), but we should not be misled. Regular academic education is very low on the Waldorf list of priorities. This is the case in Waldorf early-childhood programs, and it remains the case throughout the curriculum in later years. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".] Debra Snell, who is now president of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS), has written the following: 

"My personal experience with Waldorf was very confusing. Instead of the progressive and liberal alternative school I was led to expect by the school's promotional materials and staff, I discovered a rigid, authoritarian environment that seemed to be rooted in a medieval dogma that I did not understand. When, in an effort to make sense of things, I asked questions about this, I found Waldorf teachers to be strangely defensive.

"I was stunned to arrive at the conclusion that the education of children — at least as I use the term 'education' — did not seem to be the school's most important focus and objective. But what was?"  [http://waldorfcritics.org/]


Many other parents have had similar experiences. Of course, Waldorf Schools do attempt to convey at least a certain amount of knowledge to their students, but indeed these schools have "higher" priorities than ordinary education. They seek to help children incarnate and evolve spiritually; they seek to fulfill Rudolf Steiner’s occult vision for the future. They are, in brief, engaged in an occult, messianic mission to save the universe. This is a noble goal, but one not likely to be achieved by following the phantasmagoric fantasies of Rudolf Steiner. [See “Here’s the Answer”, “Soul School”, “Spiritual Agenda”, and “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness".]`
























For more selected 
news items, 
see 





 schools


Waldorf schools






To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.



◊◊◊ 3. WALDORF SCHOOLS TODAY ◊◊◊



WALDORF NOW

Bringing the inquiry up to date: What goes on inside Waldorf schools today?


TODAY

Waldorf schools in the 21st Century

TODAY 2
What they're saying

TODAY 3
More

TODAY 4
What they're reading

TODAY 5
What they're saying (cont.)

TODAY 6,
Readings (2018...)


More, and more, and...


WEIRD WALDORF

A brief look at the purposes of Waldorf schooling


NUTSHELL

A brief summary of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrines and teachings


SIX FACTS ABOUT STEINER EDUCATION
A guide for students and parents

ANTHROPOPERY

Steiner's theory of everything


SECRETS

Some of the things you aren’t supposed to know


FAILURE

To survive or not, to teach or not

    
REPORT CARD
Debating and evaluating Waldorf education

NEWS
News about Waldorf schools

NEWS 2

NEWS 3    
Watching (Cont., Cont.)














If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed on this site, 

you might begin by consulting the following resources:





THE SEMI-STEINER DICTIONARY

[A - D]   [E - I]   [J - O]   [P - R]   [S]   [T - Z]




THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA


[A - B]   [C - D]   [E - F]   [G - I]   [J - M]   [N - Q]   [R - S]   [T - Z]




WALDORF WATCH INDEX


[A - E]     [G - M]     [N - S]     [T - Z]



WALDORF WATCH TABLE OF CONTENTS





Waldorf education

Steiner schools

Steiner education

































Anthroposophy

Waldorf critics








[R.R., 2017.]